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Calling all NZ businesses - Is your data-centre cloud ready?

Dimension Data New Zealand outlines the five stages for cloud maturity or readiness for Kiwi organisations across the country.

Cloud is very real. Many IT organisations I talk to have already moved some workloads to the cloud and have a desire to move toward a private cloud environment within their own data centre.

I think this strategy has gained momentum for a number of reasons, such as clients’ recognising the pressure internal IT departments are under to provide much higher value to the business, while dealing with limited resources.

Also, this pressure is extending to scrutiny of the internal IT department as a whole, and how it might compare to what external cloud services offer.

Furthermore, the promise or belief that hosting and supporting corporate workloads from an external cloud will save the company time and money.

Because of this, it is important that IT departments begin to provide cloud-like offerings like those of public cloud providers – elasticity, agility, self-service, automation, metered usage, and more – in a private cloud infrastructure that operates from behind the company firewall.

At the same time, while having the flexibility to provide external cloud services where and when it is best suited, so the company can gain maximum benefit.

Where to first?

IT needs to understand where you are now and where you want to be – your data centre strategy and where cloud fits in.

To fully understand how to get from where a client is on the path for their data centre or cloud strategy, we need to help the client determine exactly what the current state of their IT environment looks like today.

In addition, cloud readiness also needs to be assessed if the end goal for the client is a public, hybrid, or private cloud.

The industry seems to recognise five stages for cloud maturity or readiness, which I’ll cover below. Without reaching a certain level of maturity, it is much more difficult for a company to move to cloud, consume from public cloud and then measure if what they are consuming provides the benefits they were seeking.

Cloud Maturity Stage 1: Consolidate

In the New Zealand market, with the proliferation of VMware, HyperV and other virtualisation technologies, we can pretty much tick this one off.

There would only be a few non-virtualised workloads within our major clients, and these wouldn’t be candidates for cloud anyway. So let’s move on.

Cloud Maturity Stage 2: Integrate

The focus of this stage is to look to integrate diverse storage and networking systems together, as well as work on standardising operations, processes and practices.

Unified solutions that offer networking, storage and servers as a single solution are sometimes considered as a more cost-effective and easy-to-deploy option.

Beyond standardising operations, the focus here should be on more efficient tackling of mission-critical workflows and applications.

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Cloud Maturity Stage 3: Automate

When a client is able to automate processes or workflows, they then start to reap the benefits of a highly streamlined, virtualised, and automated data centre.

A well-integrated infrastructure platform can leverage automation technologies to perform more automated provisioning of virtual resources, to meet shifts in business or application needs.

Because an integrated infrastructure crosses some of the traditional IT siloed roles, some organisations may need to address current roles and responsibilities.

But the benefits of a consolidated, integrated and automated data centre can lead to a more streamlined operational model, from design to deploy.

Cloud Maturity Stage 4: ITaaS and Self-Service

At Stage 4, the internal IT department has pretty much begun to provide most of the components of a private cloud environment.

The client’s internal IT department has begun to turn itself into a private cloud provider to the company.

This means IT resources are outward-facing to the internal business units, and the underlying infrastructure and processes have become both service-based and service-oriented, in an effort to identify top business needs and the accompanying IT services best able to support those needs.

Creation of a self-service portal allows business users to self-provision services while IT still retains control.

Cloud Maturity Stage 5: Hybrid Clouds

Most industry experts expect hybrid cloud environments to be the most common deployment.

IT departments will provide internally hosted private cloud services, while having the knowledge, expertise and flexibility to use a hybrid (private/public cloud mix) model to choose which type of cloud resource will best support the company’s specific application, platform or infrastructure needs.

A challenge I see is selecting the right type of management for this environment. It is important the right tools and processes are put in place to ensure the IT organisation maintains control, cost and provisioning of the overall hybrid environment.

So in summary, this is just a high-level overview of the various stages associated with transforming your data centre to initially a private cloud, and then a hybrid cloud, environment. A guideline generally accepted as the path to follow.

Not every organisation will follow it as a roadmap.

However, it does make sense to create a roadmap for your data centre that defines where you are, where you want to be and how to get there, wherever ‘there’ may be.

By Joel Pulham - Principal Sales Specialist for the Data Centre Business Unit, Dimension Data New Zealand